Gavotte with Variations
The Harmonius Blacksmith
Illustrated by Mary Greennvalt
E. P. DUTTON & CO., INC., NEW YORK
BY E. P. DUTTON & CO., INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN U. S. A.
f No part of this book may be reproduced
in any form without permission in writing
from the publisher, except by a reviewer
who wishes to quote brief passages in con-
nection with a review written for inclusion in
magazine or newspaper or radio broadcast.
EIGHTH PRINTING, JUNE, 1961
HANDEL AT THE COURT OF KINGS
Putting down his unfinished boot, lame cobbler Nils
hobbled to the doorway of his small shop.
“Bell ringer, what child then, is lost in Halle on such a
night as this?”
“George, son of old Doctor Handel, gone these two
hours past. Sev-en o’clock and a little boy lost!”
Wrapping their warm
shawls snugly about their
shoulders, the good neigh-
bors hurried to the big
Schlamm House, just
around the corner, where
tall Doctor Handel stood
at the window, his long hair
falling over his fine white
As he peered anxiously
into the whirling storm,
the heavy door was flung
open, and Mother Handel
and Aunt Anna burst into the room.
“We have searched everywhere, good husband, but the
little one cannot be found,” cried Frau Handel in alarm.
Aunt Anna shook her head sadly and a puzzled look
came into her gentle eyes.
“So quickly it happened,” she murmured. “There he
was, walking quietly by my side, and the next moment,
when I turned to him, he had vanished!”
Suddenly from the end of Nicolai Street came sounds of
music and there, led by a flickering torch, a band of wander-
ing singers moved slowly along, their feet keeping time to
As they drew nearer the Schlamm House, Mother Handel
leaned quickly toward the window.
“There he is — see — the little one bearing the light!”
Father Handel looked out sternly.
“What! The son of George Handel with a band of
wandering singers? Surely it cannot be!”
Aunt Anna smiled to herself as she slipped away quietly.
So the child had loved the music and run off with the band.
Closing the door softly, she hurried to the snowy little figure.
“Come quickly, George. Your father is displeased with
you for following the singers.”
“No, Tante Anna — I must finish the song first.”
With glowing cheeks and shining eyes, the small torch
bearer went on with the melody until the very end, and the
singers had moved on down the street.
Father Handel looked seriously into the bright, eager
face of the six-year-old boy, his fair hair shining like gold in
“They let me hold the torch, Father, and we sang for
everyone in Halle ! The music was beautiful!”
“Music! Music! Everything is music!” exclaimed Father
Handel. “But it is not for you, my son. From this day on,
let me hear no more of it in this household.”
The boy was dearer to him than anything else in all the
world. He must have every care so that some day he would
grow up to be a fine gentleman. Music was only for wander-
ing minstrels, who begged for food and clothing at the
house doors of the town. His son a wandering musician?
Never! Quietly he turned to speak with Mother Dorothea.
“Wife, our boy thinks far too much of music and it will
bring him no good. We must see to it that he thinks of more
serious things, so that some day he may become a fine
“Yes, good husband. But he is still very young and will
soon forget about the music.”
But as the days passed slowly by, George became more
and more lonely, for the thing that he loved most of all had
been taken from him. Patiently he waited for the evening
to come, and just as the twilight faded into darkness, he ran
to the high window to listen to the chimes in the tower near
by, pealing their fine old chorales at the close of day. When
the last sweet tones had faded into the night, he was happy
again and went quietly off to bed.
And every morning early, as soon as the first ray of sun
lighted his little room, he ran to find Aunt Anna, to beg her
to walk in the streets with him, for everywhere in Halle there
was music, and he wanted to hear all of it. And besides the
singers, there was always the fine town band that played in
the market square on special days of the week.
When Sunday morning came, Aunt Anna wakened him
earlier than usual and together they crept through the dimly
lighted streets to the church where he could hear the organ
high in the loft. This was the best music of all, and when the
tones rang out through the tall golden pipes, George sat on
the edge of his seat, listening with all his might. How he
longed to touch the black and white keys that made the great
But there was very little time to think about music, now
that he was nearly seven, for the day soon came when he
was ready to start to school. He stood before Father Handel,
his coat neat and his fair hair brushed, ready to leave for the
low wooden building across the village.
Father Handel looked into the bright blue eyes that
sparkled up at him.
“Learn your lessons well, my son,” he said gravely.
“They will help you to become a fine lawyer some day.”
George liked the lessons with his kind, patient teacher.
But the best time of all was at the end of the long afternoon,
when Schoolmaster Praetorious sat at his small spinet to play
his simple melodies for the boys. George stood close to the
master, eagerly watching his flying fingers as they raced over
One day, after he had finished playing, master Praetori-
ous looked into the glowing face of his youngest pupil.
“Perhaps you would like to try the spinet, George.”
His wish had come true! Breathlessly seating himself at
the small instrument, he put his short fingers on the keys
and soon had picked out a melody of an old song that he had
often sung to himself. Schoolmaster Praetorious stood near
by, watching his pupil closely. Ah, this young boy had talent
Racing through the streets of the village, George could
hardly reach the Schlamm House fast enough to tell Aunt
Anna of his great adventure.
“If only I had a spinet, I could learn to play on it my-
self,” he sighed longingly.
“Some day, perhaps,” answered kind Aunt Anna, smil-
ing as she thought of the little surprise that she had been
keeping to herself all of these weeks.
The days went slowly by and George worked harder at
his lessons, for if there were no mistakes, Master Praetorious
would let him play on his spinet.
The sun shone brightly on the morning of his seventh
birthday, waking George from a sound sleep. When he
opened his eyes, there was Aunt Anna stealing softly through
the doorway, a heavy bundle under her arm. Placing it care-
fully beside the bed, she lifted the cover.
“Joyous birthday, little one,” she whispered smilingly.
“Tante Anna! A spinet for me!” gasped George, rubbing
his eyes to make sure that he was not dreaming. Springing
from his bed, he kneeled before the old worn instrument
and quickly put his hands on the battered keys.
“No, no, George! You must not play now! Come, we
will take it where no one can hear.”
Quietly they carried the little instrument up the long
stairs to a far corner of the attic and carefully wound each
string with thin strips of cloth, so that when the spinet was
played, no sounds would reach the rooms far below.
There, it was finished at last! Breathlessly seating himself
in an old armchair, George played his simple tunes over and
over again. But there was all too little time and off he ran
down the stairs to begin the tasks of the day.
And now, whenever there was a moment to spare, George
hurried away to the dusty attic to spend happy hours at his
beloved instrument. And even at night, long after everyone
was asleep, he stole from his bed and crept up the steep stairs
to learn the pieces in the big book that Schoolmaster Prae-
torious had loaned to him.
Many times there was no candle and he struggled in the
dark to find the right keys. In the winter time it was cold and
his fingers grew numb, but George did not mind. He was
learning to play beautiful melodies!
Carefully Aunt Anna watched over him and when the
hours rolled by and still he did not come to bed, she became
anxious. Creeping up the long attic stairs, she peered
through the darkness, and there was the young musician in
the dim corner, bending over the little spinet as he struggled
to read the notes of the difficult music.
“Come, little one. It is time that you were in bed and
“But the pieces are not yet finished, Tante Anna. Listen,
and I will play for you,” answered George softly, his eyes
shining in the candle light.
Pulling her warm shawl closer about her shoulders, Aunt
Anna seated herself on the cold stairs and listened in amaze-
ment to the lovely melodies, the delicate tinkling sounds
stealing to the far corners of the old attic. How could it be
that this boy was able to play such difficult music without
help from anyone?
Her heart glowed with pride as she watched the small
musician. Surely the boy would do something in the world
some day, she said to herself.
One evening in early spring, when Aunt Anna had left
the Schlamm House on an errand for Mother Dorothea,
Father Handel walked through the house in search of his
“George! George!” he called through the long hallway.
But there was no answer.
Lighting a candle, he mounted the stairs, but George
could not be found. Suddenly he paused to listen. Surely he
heard sounds overhead. Opening the low door, he climbed
the stairs to the attic and there, under the low eaves, was his
son, playing on a musical instrument!
“George!” The stern tones rang through the attic and
the music stopped suddenly.
“I was just trying to play some of the pieces in the big
“Music again! But it will bring you no good, my son, so
the instrument must be done away with.” And putting the
spinet under his arm, Father Handel started toward the
“No, no, Father — the spinet is mine!” sobbed the small
musician. “You must not take it from me!”
Father Handel looked at the trembling little figure before
him. He could not bear to see the boy so sad, and putting
down the candle, he set the instrument on the rough floor.
“Very well, my son. You shall keep the tinkling thing.
But see to it that your noise does not disturb the peace of this
George was never so happy. The cold and the dim light
bothered him no longer and he played to his heart’s content.
Many of the pieces were too difficult for his small hands, but
each day he kept on trying until at last he had mastered them
all. And now what fine concerts he gave Aunt Anna, making
the old attic ring with his music!
One morning early, the Handel household was filled with
busy preparations, for Father Handel was going on one of
his journeys to the court of Saxe- Weissenf els, to care for his
many patients awaiting him there. And this time he would
have a little visit with Cousin George, who was valet to the
George watched eagerly. There was beautiful music at
the royal court of Weissenf els! Quickly he ran to his father.
“Please, sir, take me to the palace with you. I will be no
trouble at all.”
Father Handel fastened the last strap securely.
George watched sadly as the carriage jolted along the
roadway. Weissenfels! Weissenfels! The finest orchestra in
all the country round was at Weissenfels! Suddenly his face
brightened and springing to his feet, George started down
the roadway, running after the carriage with all his might.
He must go to Weissenfels, too!
“Another time, my son. But now I must be off, for it is
fast growing late.”
Climbing into the carriage, he set out on the narrow
roadway, the horses’ hoofs clattering briskly on the rough
cobblestones as they began the long, forty-mile journey to
the court of the Duke.
Faster and faster his short legs flew over the ground while
he called after the carriage at the top of his voice. The burn-
ing rays of the sun poured down on him and the stones in
the road cut into his feet. Clouds of dust blew into his face,
choking and blinding him, and making him fall again and
Slowly the time passed by and on he struggled, never tak-
ing his eyes from the jolting carriage. At last it slowed down.
Surely they would hear him now. Standing in the middle
of the roadway, he called with all his might, but there was
no answer to his cries.
The sun was high overhead when the horses stopped at
the side of the road to rest. Now his chance had come! For a
moment he stood still, and then with all his strength he cried
out through the noonday heat:
“Father! Father! Wait — it’s George!”
Was someone calling him in this lonely place? Slowly
Father Handel turned to peer down the roadway. A child !
He watched curiously as the dusty little figure plodded up
to the carriage.
What was this? His own son! Doctor Handel could not
believe his eves.
“Please, Father, please take me to W eissenfels with you,”
cded the weary traveler, his tears making clean pathways
through the dust on his face.
Doctor Handel was sorely puzzled. What was to be done
now? He had gone too far to send the boy back to Halle.
“You have behaved very badly, my son. But there is
nothing left for me to do but to take you to Weissenfels with
“Oh thank you. Father! Thank you!” cried George, his
eyes shining through his tears. “And I will be no trouble to
you — no trouble at all.” Curling himself up on the hard
seat beside his father, he fell fast asleep and did not once
awaken until the horses stopped at the court of the Duke of
Sounds of music greeted them when they arrived at the
palace, and there in the courtyard were the fine musicians,
playing for the ruler on their instruments. George listened
with all his might and wished that he might live here forever.
But there was all too little time to hear the music, for he was
hurried off to the servants’ quarters to bed, and was soon fast
asleep, the sounds of the music ringing in his ears.
Early the next morning he was awakened by long trumpet
calls outside his window and running to the courtyard, he
watched the Duke and his courtiers ride off to the hunt on
their coal-black chargers. Suddenly a voice sounded behind
“Ah, my fine young cousin, you are up with the sun,”
exclaimed the tall valet, laughingly. “But come with me,
little early bird, you are just in time to visit the chapel.”
Together they went through the finely-carved doorway
into the beautiful little church and there, high in the loft was
the organist, practicing the music for a special service for the
Duke. As the lovely compositions swelled through the
chapel, George crept closer and closer to the big pipes.
When he had finished playing, Herr Korner turned to
leave, and looking down, he spied the eager young admirer.
“So, little one — and you liked the music?”
“Oh yes, Herr Organist — you play very well, indeed.”
Herr Korner laughed delightedly.
“Ah, my young man, then you shall be an organist now,
too,” he cried in fun, making room on the bench beside him.
Putting his hands on the keys, George began to play one
of the pieces from the big book, while the organist listened
in amazement. Word spread quickly throughout the court
and one by one, the members of the orchestra stole into the
chapel to watch the seven-year-old musician.
“An organist — and so young! He is surely a wonder
child!” they exclaimed.
Every morning from then on, as Father Handel cared
for the sick people of the court, George spent happy hours
in the chapel, listening in wonder to the music of Herr
Korner. And always there was a little time for him to play,
Sunday morning dawned clear and cool and the bells
from the old tower chimed through the courtyard, calling
the noblemen to service. George crept quietly to his place
beside Herr Korner. But now his friend was very busy and
paid strict attention to his playing as noble lords and ladies
in rich silks and velvets swept into the chapel.
Last of all came the Duke, ruler of Saxe-Weissenfels, his
long jeweled cape sweeping behind him.
The solemn music began and George watched closely as
the court organist played the long service. But when it was
nearly ended, the music stopped suddenly, and motioning
George to the seat beside him, Herr Korner whispered
“Play, George — from here to the end.”
With trembling hands, but without once stopping,
George played the last difficult measures of the service
without a mistake.
The Duke leaned forward in astonishment. What was
this? A child organist in his chapel, and playing such music
in perfect time?
“Bring the young musician to me at once!” he com-
George followed the solemn page through the long aisle
and stood wonderingly before the proud ruler.
“Ah, my little organist, and who has taught you to play
so well?” he asked kindly, smiling into the bright eager
face before him.
“No one, Sire. I just taught myself on my spinet,
The Duke was more astonished than ever and sent at
once for Father Handel, who hurried to the chapel, to find
George talking eagerly to the ruler and his courtiers!
“So, my good Doctor,” said the Duke, “I have found
your son, here, to have great talent for music.”
“The boy finds pleasure in strumming, Your Highness.
But music is not for him. My son will one day become a
As he listened to the old doctor, the Duke became more
and more serious.
“Herr Handel, I would gladly give all of my possessions
for a gift as great as that of your son. I command you, sir,
to see that this boy has the best possible training in music.”
Turning to the delighted George, the Duke filled his
small pocket with shining pieces of gold.
“And some day, my little man, you may return to live
here at the court, and play in my orchestra,” promised the
ruler, patting the boy on the head.
George could hardly wait to get back to Halle to tell
Mother Handel and Aunt Anna of his exciting adventures.
His joyous voice rang through the room.
“And best of all, now I can learn all about music!”
Father Handel’s quiet voice answered him at once.
“But you must remember, my son, that music will never
be your life’s work. It is only for wandering singers.”
But the promise to the Duke must be strictly kept, and
soon George was hard at work with the young organist
and teacher, Herr Zachau, the finest musician in all the
George was delighted with the lessons on the harpsi-
chord and the organ. And there was the study of composi-
tion, when he learned to write little pieces. Each week he
surprised his teacher with music that he had composed,
until there was no more room in the copy book.
But the young musician was not yet satisfied. He must
have still more work to do.
“Very well, my industrious young pupil,” declared
Master Zachau. “Then we will start lessons on the violin
and the oboe, and for them you can write new melodies.”
As the months went quickly by, Herr Zachau became
more and more amazed at the rapid progress of the small
musician. Nothing seemed too hard for him. Even the
violin, which is a difficult instrument to play, was easy for
George, and after the long lesson was over, he hurried home
to go over the pieces again for Aunt Anna, who loved the
concerts of the fine young player, drawing the bow so
smoothly across the strings.
Sometimes, when his lessons at school were finished for
the day, George liked to steal outside the city walls to the
salt marshes with the neighbor boys. There, hidden in the
long grasses, he could watch the six hundred workers,
banded together in war-like tribes, battle with each other
to see who would be the rulers of the marsh lands.
And there were the busy coal mines near by, where the
men took him deep into the earth through mysterious
dark tunnels to dig for the hard, black fuel. But best of
But many times, as much as
he liked to play with the neigh-
bor boys, George would sud-
denly feel lonely, and hurrying
home, he would quickly play
his music and be happy again.
In the years that went swiftly
by, he worked diligently with
Master Zachau, who was so
pleased with the work of his
young pupil, that he tried in every way to help him.
Besides the long and difficult task of copying the works
of the German and Italian composers, George spent many
hours in writing pieces of his own. Already he had com-
posed sonatas for the spinet and the oboe and violin.
all was playing in the old castle
behind his house, climbing to
the high towers and hiding
in dark, winding stairways, to
pounce with loud cries upon the
More than anything else,
George liked to play on the
organ. But the lessons with
Master Zachau were never long
enough, and always he begged
to stay on in the church where
he could be alone with the in-
strument. Then what fun it was
to see in how many ways he
could play the same piece
of music, sending the melody
thundering through the aisles!
One morning, after a long
lesson, Master Zachau turned
to his eleven-year-old pupil.
“At last you are ready, George. Tomorrow you will take
my place in the church and play for the early service.”
“Oh, Master Zachau,— if only I can play the music well
enough!” cried the young organist. Turning at once to the
instrument, he went over and over parts of the mass that he
was to play on the following morning.
Early the next day, long before the sun was up, he
hurried with Aunt Anna through the cold streets to the
“Now you will be the audience and I will play for you,
Mistress Anna,” cried the young organist, and seating him-
self on the high bench, he put his hands on the keys and the
music swelled through the dimly lighted building.
One piece after another flowed through the great pipes
and George forgot everything about him as he played on
and on. The people, coming into the church, looked up in
amazement to see the young boy, high in the organ loft,
playing a concert at six o’clock in the morning. And what
beautiful music it was!
Master Zachau, walking quietly through the tall doors,
could not believe his ears. A concert at daybreak! He
hurried to the organ to find his young pupil playing a
sprightly dancing melody, his eyes glowing with delight.
“George! George!” he whispered, “It is time for the
solemn mass. Find the music quickly and begin at once!”
“Yes, yes sir,” answered the young musician, looking
around in surprise at the well-filled church.
But there was no need to find the music, for George had
learned it all by heart, and at once the solemn music began.
Master Zachau, seated on the bench below, watched in
astonishment. To play this difficult music without once
looking at the notes!
Yes, the time had come for the boy to listen to other
masters of music, for he had taught him all that he knew.
When the long service was over, he went again to the loft.
“I am well pleased with what you have done this day,
my pupil. It is time, now, for you to travel to Berlin, where
you will hear the great musicians and composers, Ariosti
and Buononcini, who are playing at the royal court.”
George could not believe the words that rang in his ears.
To go to Berlin, the court of the proud rulers! But suddenly
he grew serious.
“But my father, Herr Zachau, — surely he will not allow
me to go away from home to hear the great masters of
“I, too, have thought of that, my boy. We will go and
speak to him at once.”
Together they went through the streets to the Schlamm
House and quietly Herr Zachau told his plan to Doctor
Handel, who watched the eager face of his son as he listened
to the earnest young master. Yes, perhaps the journey
would be good for the boy, who would learn at last that his
music was only in fun.
“Very well, George. You may go to the court to hear
the players. But you must return quickly and begin to work
harder than ever at your studies, so that some day you may
become a fine lawyer.”
George was overjoyed at the good news and could
hardly wait for the day to come when he would start off
for the bustling city of Berlin, to hear the music of the noted
masters at the royal court of the Elector.
The good folk of Halle were still sound asleep in their snug
thatched-roof houses, for the spring morning was dark and
chill and not even a ray of sunlight had yet come to warm
the narrow streets of the little village.
All but in the Handel household, where everyone
was bustling with last-minute preparations, for soon it
would be time for George to start off on his long journey to
Berlin. He had been up since daybreak, dressed in his best
red traveling coat. Now and then he rushed off to see if the
coach had arrived, and hurried back to watch Aunt Anna
as she busied herself in the warm kitchen, preparing a good
hearty breakfast for her hungry family.
Just as George finished the last hot sausage, the clatter
of horses’ hoofs sounded on the sharp cobblestones outside.
“The coach is here, Mother!” he cried, running to the
high window overlooking the street.
Yes, there was the carriage, drawn by four strong horses,
and rushing from the doorway, George climbed into the
front seat, calling a cheery good morning to jolly Herr
Schlegel, the good friend of Father Handel, who was
on his way to Berlin and had promised to take the boy
Mother Handel, in her thick woolen shawl, hurried
from the house with a large basket of lunch and handed it
to the driver. Looking into the carriage to see that all was
well, she smoothed the warm blanket at the back, and pat-
ting George on the head, smiled into the merry blue eyes.
“Be sure to stay close to Herr Schlegel, and do all that
he bids you,” she cautioned earnestly.
“And return to us quickly, my son,” added Father
Handel, looking into the glowing face of the boy whom
he loved more than anything else in all the world.
With a crack of the whip they were off, and leaning from
the window, George waved his bright scarf with all his
“Good-by! Good-by!” he called happily, as the horses
rounded the corner and galloped onto the long, long road
leading to Berlin.
Herr Schlegel looked solemnly at his excited young
“So, my fine gentleman, and are you traveling far on
this fine spring morning?” he asked jokingly, a merry
twinkle in his eye.
“Oh no, Your Honor — just around the corner to
Berlin,” responded George quickly, and the two laughed
Even though the windows were tightly closed, the sharp
wind whistled its way through the cracks and it grew very
cold in the carriage. But George did not mind. He was off
on a great adventure — to hear the music of the celebrated
masters, Ariosti and Buononcini, at the Court of the Elector.
Tapping a merry dance on the floor of the coach, he
sang a jolly tune at the top of his voice, Herr Schlegel com-
ing in now and then in his deep bass voice. On and on
rumbled the happy travelers over the rough, muddy roads
and at last, after ten long days of traveling, they arrived in
the city of Berlin.
George looked eagerly around him. How tall the build-
ings were, and what crowds of people filled the streets!
But there could be no rest, for George could think of
nothing but the music at the palace and before long he was
on his way, and soon arrived at the splendid Court of the
Elector, where a concert had already begun.
There, on a raised platform, were the ruler and the
Electress with their royal guests, listening to the music of
their noted composer, Buononcini.
George stood close to the door, his eyes wide with
wonder. Never had he heard such playing before. The
glorious compositions swept over him, filling him with the
greatest joy, and when the last piece was ended, he joined
heartily in the waves of applause and bravos that rang
through the beautiful room.
Buononcini, in fine court costume of rich velvet and
costly lace, bowed to the delighted people, and when the
hall was quiet, he began to speak.
“Your Royal Highnesses, Lords
and Ladies of the Court, I should
like to challenge someone to a
musical contest. If there is one
among you who is ready to accept,
let him take his place beside me
George looked eagerly about him, but there was deep
silence. Was there no one to enter the contest? Then he,
himself, must answer the challenge. Leaving his place
quietly, he walked slowly to the front of the room and
bowed to the astonished composer.
“I would like to enter the contest, sir.”
Buononcini smiled with amusement at the young boy
in dusty traveling costume.
“I trust that you are a musician, young man. But soon
we shall see. Ariosti, here, will give us a theme and from it
we will each compose a piece of music. I will begin and
you will follow me.”
From his place of honor, Ariosti played a difficult
melody, and seating himself at the harpsichord, Buononcini
wove a composition from the little theme. When he had
finished, there was a round of applause from the excited
audience. The dignified master bowed his thanks and
turned to George.
“And now it is your turn, young man. Let us see what
you can do with the theme.”
The people leaned forward in their chairs to watch the
small musician, seated at the beautiful instrument. In a mo-
ment his fingers were flying over the keys, one lovely varia-
tion after another weaving a magic spell over the vast
The Electress Charlotte, herself a fine musician, eagerly
watched the young player, his fair head shining in the light.
Who was this lad with such rare talent? Surely he did not
come from Berlin.
Buononcini listened angrily to the brilliant playing, a
scowl of rage on his proud face. Someone had played a trick
on him! Very well, then, he would teach this country boy
a lesson that he would not soon forget. When the last varia-
tion thundered through the hall and cries of astonishment
broke from the excited people, he turned sharply to the
“Ah, my brave stranger, I can see that you are a musician.
But the contest has only begun. Tomorrow we shall meet
again, when another test will be presented to you. Good
day, young sir,” and bowing stiffly, the master left the room.
Laughingly the Electress Charlotte turned to her royal
“Poor Buononcini! He cannot bear a rival. Tomorrow
we shall see some fine sport, for never will our great master
allow the boy to surpass him.”
Word of the power of the young George Handel sped
quickly throughout the court, and on the following day,
long before the appointed hour, the hall was crowded to the
doors with an excited audience, eager to catch the first
glimpse of the boy musician.
Suddenly a long trumpet call sounded through the royal
chamber and while the Elector and Electress with their
royal courtiers took their places, the people stood to honor
their good rulers.
George sat on the edge of his chair beside Ariosti, his
cheeks flushed and his eyes bright as he watched the stately
procession, rich costumes and costly jewels shining under
the crystal chandeliers. Soon he would be playing for this
At last all was quiet and from a side door came Buonon-
cini, a pleased smile on his face. Under his arm he carried a
large book, and bowing to the assembled company, he spoke
“We are now ready to test the powers of the young man
who played for us yesterday. Here in this book is a composi-
tion that I have just composed. I assure you that not only
will it test the powers of this young man, but it would chal-
lenge any living musician.”
What could the music be? Curiously George sat at the
harpsichord and opened the book. Before him was the most
difficult composition that he had ever seen. It was a severe
Buononcini smiled as he watched the boy. Surely he
would not even try to play the music.
Taking a deep breath, George sat up suddenly and the
audience watched in astonishment as he began the long, dif-
ficult work. Soon his fingers were flying over the keys, and
from the beginning until the end, he played the music with-
out a single mistake.
The people were astounded and rising to their feet, their
cheers rang through the great hall.
“Bravo, young musician! Bravo! Bravo!”
At once a royal page at his side commanded George to
follow him, and in a moment, the young musician was stand-
ing before the rulers of Berlin, his fair head bowed low. In
warm tones, the Elector spoke to him.
George answered with a bright smile.
“Oh, thank you, Your Highness. But that could never
be, for my father does not wish me to become a musician.”
Princess Charlotte stamped her foot impatiently and her
dark eyes flashed with displeasure.
“Boy, royal commands are meant to be obeyed. We will
send word to your father at once.”
A kindly smile lighted the face of the Elector.
“Young Handel, it would mean much to us to have you
here. And we would send you to Italy, where you would
study with the greatest masters, so that one day you would
become the finest musician in all the world.”
George listened in wonder. To spend the rest of his life
in music! But that was too good to be true.
Word was sent by fastest messenger to Halle, and while
he waited for an answer, George spent long, happy days at
the court, where honors and costly presents were showered
upon him by the members of the royal company.
But the best time of all was in the early morning, when,
with a special guard beside him, he rode to the hunt on a coal
black charger. In the evening, after the fine dinner was over,
he played for the royal family and the eager visitors who
crowded to the concert hall to listen to the boy wonder.
Already his fame had spread throughout Berlin, until the
name of George Handel was spoken everywhere.
At last, one morning early, after he had returned from
the hunt, word came from Father Handel ordering George
home at once. Sadly putting his few belongings and his new
treasures into the coach, he set out with Herr Schlegel, a
heavy purse of gold from the royal rulers tucked safely away
in his pocket.
The February snow filled all the roadways and it was bit-
terly cold in the carriage. As the horses stumbled on through
the great drifts with their precious burden, George and Herr
Schlegel told funny jokes and stories to pass away the long
At last, after many weary days of traveling, the little roof
tops of Halle could be seen, poking their heads out of the
white mounds of snow.
“We are home, Herr Schlegel! Home! Home! Home!”
shouted George. And leaping from the carriage he bounded
into the warm Schlamm House. But Mother Handel hur-
ried to meet him, her finger to her lips.
“Hush, George! Your father is very ill. He is waiting for
Quietly George crept into the sick room and at once,
a smile of joy lighted his father’s face at sight of his beloved
“How good it is to see you safely at home again, my boy!
And to think that they might have made a musician of you!”
Very soon afterward, Father Handel died, and George
was very sad. There was little money now and eagerly he set
out to earn a living for Mother Handel, Aunt Anna, and the
two little sisters.
At once he went to Master Zachau, who helped his pupil
in every way that he could, arranging concerts for him to
play at the homes of noble families, and letting the boy take
his place at the organ in the church whenever he was away
There was very little time for composing, but whenever
there was a minute to spare, George wrote the melodies that
poured into his mind and hurried with them to the master,
who was delighted with the new compositions, especially
this little minuet that perhaps you, too, can play.
Sometimes, when there were holidays at the Latin
School, George called his classmates together and off they
went to the Schlamm House for music.
“Play for us, George! Play for us!” cried the boys, open-
ing the book of music on the clavier.
“Not until we have finished with the singing,” declared
the young master, handing the boys freshly-written sheets
of music that he had just composed.
Always the singers liked the new songs and sang them
lustily. They were very proud of their young leader, even
though he was very strict with them and scolded them
soundly when they did not pay good attention. Sometimes,
when they worked hard enough, George allowed them to
sing in the little church on Sunday, when he was the organist
for Herr Zachau.
In the years that went swiftly by, George grew to be a
tall, handsome young man, loved by everyone in Halle. Now
he was hard at work at the University, where some day he
would become a lawyer, as Father Handel had wished. But
always his mind was filled with melodies and he longed to
spend all of his time in music.
Throughout the years, he had never stopped working
with Master Zachau, and now he was a fine musician, indeed.
Already he was known far beyond Halle for his playing and
composing, and how happy he was when he was asked to
give still more concerts at the homes of noblemen! Now he
would be able to take even better care of his dear ones.
One Sunday morning, after he had finished playing the
service in the church for Master Zachau, he turned to leave
the organ loft and there, waiting for him, was a little band
of solemn-faced men. The leader came to meet him.
“Herr Handel, we have been sent from the Council of
Halle to ask you to accept the position of organist and choir
director at the Cathedral for one year, for the sum that we
have to offer you.” 60
To have a real music position at last! George could
hardly believe the words that rang in his ears. Breathlessly
he gave his answer to the elders.
“Oh, thank you, sirs! I will be glad to accept your kind
offer, and I hope that my services will please you.”
He could hardly wait to reach home to tell of his good
fortune, and rushing through the streets, he burst into the
house, his heart pounding for joy.
“Mother! Aunt Anna! The most wonderful thing in the
world has happened!”
The little family gathered around him in wonderment.
“Come, come, George!” laughed his mother. “Tell us
what has happened.”
“Good luck has come to us all! Iam to be the organist and
choir director in the Halle Cathedral!”
Mother Handel looked with pride at her tall, seventeen-
“It is indeed good fortune that you bring to us, George,
and well you deserve the honor that has come to you.”
Faithful Aunt Anna smoothed her white apron, her cap
nodding joyously, while the two younger sisters danced
around the room, chanting solemnly:
“George Frederic Han-del, Organist and Choir Master,
Organist and Choir Master, George Frederic Han-del.”
But there was hard work to be done before the next Sun-
day arrived, and every morning early, even before the sun
was up, George hurried off to the Cathedral to spend hours
at the organ.
It was cold in the stone church and very little light came
from the high dim windows, but the practicing must be done,
for all too soon it would be time to leave for his lessons at
The week went swiftly by and when Sunday morning
came, George awakened with a start. It must be time for the
early service! Hurrying through the streets to the church,
he looked anxiously about him.
Yes, all was in order, with the singers in their places, their
costumes neat and the music ready. When the last chimes
pealed from the old bell tower, the solemn leaders and the
people of Halle entered the Cathedral, and putting his hands
on the keys, George began to play.
As the stately music swelled through the church, the
people listened in wonder, looking closely at the new young
organist, sitting so straight and tall, high in the organ loft.
“Why — it is our own George Handel! And how well
he plays — even better than Master Zachau!” they whispered
to each other.
But George thought only of the music and watched the
notes carefully, so that there would be no mistakes on this
special morning. The boys of the choir followed their leader
closely and sang the music that George had written for them
so beautifully that the people were pleased, indeed.
Never before had they heard such lovely melody in their
Cathedral, and they were happy that George Frederic Han-
del was to be their director for many long months to come.
As the proud little family walked home together, George
“From this day on, I will give up my studies at the Uni-
versity and spend the rest of my life in music.”
“Perhaps it is well, my son,” answered Mother Handel
thoughtfully. “Surely you will know what is best for you
There was a fine celebration dinner in the old Schlamm
House, and when it was finished, George hurried into the
little back room, for he was so joyous, he must put down the
two delightful little French dances that had come into his
And how you will enjoy playing this gavotte and passe-
• = — :g — P
— # 1
msvmmmjmmm — —
m LMiwt mmm—wmmmm
1 u 1
■" 'W~9— _
b* v - —
“There, finished at last ! 55 exclaimed George, turning
from the little spinet to find Aunt Anna waiting anxiously.
“And in time, too , 55 laughed the happy cook, “Or my
fine supper for Master Handel would soon be finished !” And
hurrying to the warm kitchen, she brought a steaming bowl
of soup and hot crusty bread, fresh from the oven, for the
The months went quickly by, and even though his duties
in the church became ever more difficult, George was never
so happy, for all of his time was spent in music.
And besides his work in the Cathedral, he was asked to
direct the music in all seven of the churches of Halle! This
was a task, indeed, for special compositions must be written
for each of them and soon there was not a moment to spare
from early morning until late at night.
But at last the year came to an end and George was
delighted when the leaders of the Cathedral came to tell him
of the pleasure his music had given to the people of Halle.
“And we would like to have you stay on with us for
still another year, Herr Handel, to direct the music in our
churches . 55
George smiled happily at the honor that had come to him.
“Thank you, sirs, but I cannot go on with the work here,
for I have decided to leave my home in Halle,” he answered.
Mother Handel and Aunt Anna were much upset at the
“But there is nothing left for me here in Halle, for I have
learned all that I can,” explained George. “Now I must go
to Hamburg and find something to do in that city of music.”
Taking a small purse from her apron, Mother Handel
put it into the hand of her son.
“There is very little money, my boy, but it will help you
to live until you can find something to do. For long months
now I have been saving it for just such a time as this.”
George shook his head thoughtfully, and then slipped
the little purse into his pocket.
“For a little time I will use it, but soon you shall have it
back again, and with much more, besides.”
It was not long before all was ready, and with a song in
his heart, George started out in the coach in the crisp early
morning, to seek his fortune in the great city of Hamburg.
The sun was high overhead when the old coach rattled into
Hamburg. Clicketty-clack, Clicketty-clack, rang the
wheels on the rough streets, and pressing his face against
the dingy window, George looked with glowing eyes at the
Before the wheels had stopped turning, he sprang to the
ground, sniffing the air hungrily to make sure that he was
really in Hamburg, the city of adventure.
“Your bags, young traveler,” called the driver in a sing-
song voice. Then, looking sharply at George, he added
quietly, “Pretty big place for a young man like you. Better
have a look around and go back to Halle with me.”
Looking up with a merry smile, George nodded brightly.
“Thank you, driver, but Hamburg is my home from now
Grasping his bundles firmly, he started happily down the
street. What did it matter if he had little money in his pocket
and knew no one in all the strange city ? He was in Hamburg,
where great adventures awaited him!
It was not long before he had found himself a small room,
and carefully locking the door on his few possessions, he
set out to explore the city of music. He had not gone far
when his eye fell upon a small sign :
Wanted at once — Violinist for Orchestra
Opera House — Director Keiser.
A real position, and when he needed one so badly ! Surely
luck was with him. Hurrying back to his room, George
seized his violin, and finding his way to the opera house,
knocked gently on the door marked DIRECTOR. At once
a brisk voice answered him.
“Yes, yes. Come in!”
The busy Herr Keiser looked up from his music writing,
and seeing the violin case, nodded his bushy head.
“Then you are a violinist? Good. Come this afternoon,
and if you can play the orchestra music, you may stay on
with the men. Good day, young man.”
George walked about the streets, his heart pounding for
joy, and long before it was time, he was back again at the
opera house and eagerly took his place with the men of the
orchestra. And now if only he could play the music well
enough ! Carefully he watched the director and went through
his part without a single mistake.
It was decided at once that he would stay on to play with
the men, and George could hardly believe the good fortune
that had come to him so quickly.
The men of the orchestra, who sat near him, were very
kind to the new violinist and as the months went quickly by,
they became very proud of the young musician from Halle.
George liked to play the tuneful melodies of the opera.
And what fun it was to watch the singers on the stage, acting
the story as they sang their parts. But when it was time to
play, he paid the strictest attention to the music and did
not once look up from the notes.
One afternoon, as he took his place in the orchestra, his
eyes twinkled with mischief. He would play a little joke
on his companions! As the conductor nodded his head and
the music began, George stumbled in his part. Quickly the
man at his side pointed to the place, but no sooner had he
started again, than his bow fell to the floor.
Throughout the long rehearsal and for many days,
George played badly, and at last the men became very
annoyed and spoke to him crossly.
“What is wrong with you, Handel? Have you forgotten
how to play on your instrument?”
George looked at them helplessly.
“Why, you see — the music was new — and so difficult!”
One day, not long afterward, the conductor was ill and
there was no one to lead the men. As the members ol the
orchestra began to put away their instruments, a sudden
thought raced into George’s mind, and walking swiftly to
the front of the hall, he seated himself in the conductor’s
place at the clavichord.
Putting his hands on the keys, he played a sudden sharp
chord, bringing the men to attention at once. With bright
blue eyes flashing, he crisply gave his orders.
“Gentlemen, if you will follow me, I will lead you in
this music. Now then, we will start at the beginning, and I
will show you how I would like the score to be played.”
The men of the orchestra were highly amused.
“The conductor from Halle! Now we shall have some
sport!” they declared, laughingly.
But George paid no attention. Running his hands
swiftly over the keys, he played parts of the difficult score
with such ease that the men sat up in amazement. Surely they
had made a great mistake, for this young man was a fine
Taking up their instruments quickly, they followed their
strict young leader closely. Again and again George stopped
them to go over parts of the music and would not be satisfied
until every note was perfect. The singers, too, worked harder
than they had ever worked before, and when at last the long
rehearsal was over, their cheers rang through the hall.
“Bravo, Conductor! Bravo, Handel!”
Of course he would lead the evening performance, as
well, and eagerly he hurried back to the opera house, his
shoes neatly polished and fresh ruffles in his dark blue coat.
When all was in readiness, the lights were lowered and
George took his place at the clavichord. T he audience leaned
forward in surprise. A strange conductor — and so young!
Slowly the lights came on the stage and as the curtain rose,
the music began, the people listening closely.
Why, this young conductor was even better than their
own Herr Keiser! The directors, too, were surprised and
delighted, and as the audiences grew larger with each
performance, they went to speak with the young leader.
“Handel, you have so pleased the people of Hamburg
with your conducting, that we would like to offer you the
position as leader of the opera for the rest of the year. We
hope that you will accept, young man.”
To be the conductor of the opera house in the great city
of Hamburg! Breathlessly Handel gave his answer to the
“Oh, thank you, sirs. You have brought me great honor,
and I will be glad to go on with the work.”
The people of Hamburg were delighted with the fine
musician from Halle and soon pupils made their way to his
door, begging for lessons on the clavichord. And when the
leaders of the church of the Magdalene came to him, asking
him to be their organist and choir director, he was happier
than ever and played on the organ with such power, that
people came from far and near to hear the new musician.
One warm July day, as George sat high in the organ loft,
busily practicing the music for the services, he heard foot-
steps in the church behind him and turning quickly, he saw
a smiling, handsome young man coming to greet him.
“Handel, I am Mattheson, Johann Mattheson, and hear-
ing your music in passing, I stopped in to listen.”
Johann Mattheson, the brilliant singer and composer of
Hamburg, known far and wide for his music! Eagerly the
two young men talked together and soon they were playing
on the organ, trying to outdo each other in making variations
from the same little melody.
George made up this old French dance which he called
“Gavotte with Variations.” You must try to play it, too. And
what fun you will have with the variations!
GAVOTTE WITH VARIATIONS
:Mi 1 1 i
I a ± — ; — : — i
-jl— utzm s w i ru_ w . . i i™i w m — s-i
l .. vH 1 ’■■r ■ JH
V ■■■■■■■■■ |
l i i
■ ■■■ ■h ■■■ m i
n ' T Y'~- -
i 1 t
ft # m ,
— > — i—
ft m -
■ ■■ MHIMBB 1
fcj nr.wt wmrwmm ■
f - i 1
~r — r
The two young musicians became close friends, and to
his own home and the homes of all the noted musicians in
the city, Johann took his new friend, George, who played
everywhere on the clavichord, astounding everyone who
One bright morning, as George sat in his little room,
Mattheson burst in upon him, calling merrily,
“An adventure awaits us, my dear Handel. Word has just
come from Liibeck, of a fine organ position there. Shall we
try our luck, my friend?”
“At once! On to Liibeck!” cried Handel, gaily, and
down the street raced the adventurers, catching the ricketty
post just in time.
Soon they were jogging over the bumpy roads, laughing
and talking merrily together. When at last they arrived in
Liibeck, they went at once to the Marienkirche where the
director, Herr Wedderkopp, in shiny black coat, looked at
them sharply over his spectacles.
“Handel and Mattheson, from Hamburg. Yes, yes, I
have heard of your playing, young sirs. Our great organist,
Buxtehude, is fast growing old, and someone must soon take
his place. N ow then, I will be glad to listen while you perform
at the instrument.”
As the noble music rang through the church, Herr Wed-
derkopp became more and more excited. If only Buxtehude,
himself, could be here to listen to these fine musicians! Nod-
ding and smiling with pleasure, the short little director
hurried to the organists.
“Young gentlemen, you have won the position equally.
But as we cannot use two organists, whichever of you is
willing to marry the daughter of Buxtehude, he shall be
given the post.”
To marry the daughter of Buxtehude! Helplessly the
organists looked at each other and at last Handel answered
the director seriously.
“Thank you, Herr Wedderkopp, but we must have time
to consider your bargain. Good day to you, sir.”
Leaving the cb urch, the astonished musicians left Liibeck
with all possible speed, breathing happy sighs as the city of
Hamburg came into view. Handel was so glad to be safely
at home again, that he sat at his desk to write this delightful
gavotte, which is an old French dance, and one that you, too,
may be able to play.
One evening, as George was on his way home, still hum-
ming melodies from the opera that he had just conducted,
he stopped suddenly under an old street lamp as an idea came
to him. He had been conducting operas written by other
composers. Why should he not write an opera of his own?
Surely it would do no harm to try.
Almost at once, melodies began to pour into his mind,
and scarcely could he get home fast enough to put them
down. From then on, whenever there was a moment to spare,
he worked with all his might and in a few short weeks, the
new opera, “Almira,” was finished. His first opera — at
He could hardly wait to show the freshly written sheets
“But Handel, this is a beautiful work!” cried his friend,
humming bits of the music. “We must produce it at once!”
George smiled happily.
“And you, my friend, will sing the leading part!”
Joyously they left for the opera house and on the very next
day the rehearsals began. In just one week, “Almira” was
ready, and breathlessly Handel watched the audience slowly
enter the hall, ready to listen to his new opera!
The music began and the people watched eagerly as the
beautiful work went on. Why, this was a fine opera, indeed,
and written by their own young conductor! When the cur-
tain went down and the applause rained upon him, Handel
turned to face the excited audience, bowing his thanks again
For many nights George conducted his new work for
the delighted people of Hamburg, until time for the opera
house to close.
And now he was free to play in concerts and George
spent many happy evenings with the finest musicians in
Hamburg. He was now the leading harpsichord player in
all the city, and wherever he performed, the Italian Prince
Medici went to hear him, and the two became good friends.
Prince Medici played with great skill on the flute, and
George loved to listen to the liquid notes rippling from the
shining silver pipe. One evening, after the last delicate tones
had died away, he turned with glowing eyes to his friend.
“The music was beautiful, Prince Medici!”
“Ah, my good Handel, from such a great musician, that
is praise, indeed. And each time that I hear your music, I
long to have you share your playing with the people of my
country. Why not go to Italy for a little visit, my friend?”
“Some day, perhaps,” answered George quietly, “for I
have wished to go to your beautiful country for many long
Italy — land of music and merry-hearted people! All
that night George dreamed of nothing else, and when the
dawn stole in at the window, he awoke, resolved to start off
as soon as possible. In a short time all was arranged, and
joyously packing a few belongings, George hastily boarded
the post and clattered away from Hamburg. At last he was
on his way to Italy!
When he arrived in Florence, the beautiful City of
Flowers, he went at once to the fine palace of the royal Prince
Ferdinand, who greeted him warmly.
“My brother in Hamburg has told me of your coming
and I am glad to welcome you to our country, Herr Handel.
If you are not over-weary with journeying, I should be
happy if you would play for my guests.”
At once the dusty traveler was led to a fine suite of rooms
overlooking a stately garden, with long lines of cypress trees
and masses of delicate blooms. It was all like a beautiful
Suddenly there was a low knock at the door and a servant
entered, bearing a gift from the prince — a fine costume of
deep red velvet, richly embroidered in gold, with hand-
wrought shoe buckles of shining silver! Hurriedly dressing
nimself in the handsome court dress, Handel made his way
down the great staircase to the music room, lighted by
glistening crystal chandeliers.
At once, a page in scarlet uniform announced the guest
to the royal company.
“Prince Ferdinand presents to you with pleasure, the
noted composer, George Frederic Handel.”
As George took his place at the beautiful clavichord,
sitting straight and tall and with head erect, all eyes were
upon him. This handsome young man looked like a royal
But in a moment, George had forgotten everything but
his music, and running his fingers lightly over the keys, he
began to play this little gigue that he had composed.
Can you play the music, too, and in a lively manner?
As the music went on, a rustle of excitement passed over
the assembled company, and as the playing became ever
more brilliant, the audience could be still no longer, and
broke into excited applause.
“Bravo, Saxon! Bravo! Bravo!”
There was all of Italy yet to be seen, and in a few days
George said good-by to the kind prince and eagerly made
his way to Rome and Venice, playing on the organ in the
churches there, astounding all who came to hear him. Soon
his fame had spread far and wide and the name of Handel
was spoken everywhere.
One evening, as the moon flooded the long canals of
Venice with silvery light, George drifted along in a gondola,
enjoying the singing of the old gondolier behind him, when
suddenly they came to a palace. There, under the soft
lights, crowds of merrymakers were dancing on the highly
polished floors, their laughing eyes hidden by narrow black
He must get closer to the music, and stepping ashore,
Handel stood on the palace steps, eagerly watching the
bright whirling costumes and listening to the tuneful
Suddenly the music stopped and in the long pause that
followed, a tall masked figure moved slowly through the
ballroom to the harpsichord, and seating himself, began to
Strong, ringing chords startled the merrymakers and at
once they crowded around to listen. Then came swiftly
running passages, the fingers of the player racing over the
keys with such power that the excited revelers broke into a
round of applause.
“Bravo, Stranger! Bravo, Musician!”
The handsome young Scarlatti, noted Italian composer,
was startled at the sounds. Who was this man, playing as no
on e in Italy had ever played before? Pushing his way through
the crowd, he grasped the shoulder of the stranger, crying,
“You are either the Saxon or the Devil! Unmask, sir!”
With delighted cries, the crowd pressed closer, and pull-
ing the black cloth from his eyes, Handel laughed merrily.
“The Saxon! The Saxon!” cried the revelers, and would
not go on with their dancing until he had played for them
From that moment on, Handel and Scarlatti became
close friends, traveling from one lovely Italian city to an-
other, giving concerts, conducting, and composing. With
so much music everywhere, the melodies would not stop
coming, and cantatas, songs, pieces for instruments, and an
opera, came from Handel’s pen.
This delightful vivace of his you will want to try at once.
Everywhere gifts and honors were showered upon
Handel and his name rang through the countryside. If only
he could. stay forever in this land of music! But he must earn
his living, and all the fame and honor in Italy would not do
that for him.
There were many times now when he went without food
to save the little money that was left, and sadly he knew that
there was nothing left for him to do but to go back to
Hamburg and begin the dreary work of teaching his pupils
One evening in Venice, when he was conducting his
opera for the last time, the Prince of Hanover, seated in a
box near the stage, leaned forward in keen interest. Here
was a fine musician, indeed — and a composer, as well! He
must speak to this young man at once.
When the curtain was lowered and the last beautiful
melody had been played for the delighted audience, the
Prince sent his special messenger to the stage, asking Handel
to speak with him in his box. In a few moments, the happy
composer stood before the proud ruler.
“ Y our conducting has pleased me very much, Herr Han-
del. I would be glad if you would return to Hanover with
me to take charge of the music at my court.”
Handel’s eyes brightened with pleasure. This would be
a new adventure, and besides, he would have a real position,
when he needed one so badly.
“Thank you, Your Highness,” he answered, bowing
low. “I will be glad to accept your kind offer.”
Bidding good-by to his kind friend, Scarlatti, Handel
left for the royal court of the Prince, where he was soon
at work directing the fine group of players, who eagerly
followed their strict young conductor.
But as the months went slowly by, a great longing came
over Handel to go traveling again. He would like to go to
England, for many invitations had come to him from the
people there, asking him to play for them in their country.
There was only one thing for him to do. He must speak to
the Prince at once.
“Y our Highness, I beg permission to leave the court for
a little time, for I must go to England.”
“England!” exclaimed the prince, his wig trembling with
anger as he rapped on the ground with his gold-headed cane.
“But I cannot spare you, Handel. There is no one now but
you, who can please me with music.”
Then, looking sharply into the determined blue eyes of
his young conductor, the prince nodded slowly.
“Very well, then — you shall go. But see to it that you
return to us shortly!”
To be free again! With all speed, Handel made himself
ready and was soon on his way in the lumbering coach —
off to the beautiful country of England!
A thick blanket of fog had crept from the quiet hills into
the lowlands, settling over all the countryside, swallowing
the trees, the houses, and even the roadway as Handel
watched from the coach window. Now and then he could
hear the driver, urging the horses on through the gray cur-
tain, step by step, mile after mile of the last lap of the journey
from Hanover to the sea.
“Steady, Bess. Easy there, Tom. Scared of a little mist?
But there’s nothing to hurt you, my beauties.”
It was late at night when they drew up at the old harbor
inn that loomed suddenly out of the heavy fog. Sliding down
from the high seat, the driver patted the horses kindly, and
poking his head into the carriage, he called cheerily,
“Here we are, sir. And horses about finished.”
“A long ride, driver.”
“Considerable, sir. Considerable.”
Stumbling out of the dark carriage, Handel listened
eagerly to the low surging sounds that crept up through the
mist. He was at the sea, and in the morning he would set sail
for England! Turning to the door of the inn, he knocked
In a moment the great oaken door swung wide, and there
stood the short, plump innkeeper in red flannel robe and
nightcap, peering out into the darkness.
“Welcome, stranger,” he cried heartily. Quickly lead-
ing the way to the back room, he fanned the glowing logs
into a bright flame. “Supper in a moment, sir!”
How good it was to bask in the cheering warmth of the
great open fire after the long ride from Hanover. Hungrily
sniffing the round, juicy sausages, Handel watched the jolly
innkeeper as he moved them from the flame, turning them
now and then until at last they were done to a turn.
Never did a simple meal taste so good, and thanking the
innkeeper warmly, he stumbled off to bed and was soon fast
asleep, the wash of the ocean sounding in his ears.
All too soon the gray morning light found its way
through the small porthole window, waking Handel with a
start. It must be midmorning, and time for the boat to set sail
It did not take him long to make himself ready, and
hurrying to the landing, he looked out at the shining water
where the little vessel lay in the sun, waiting calmly for her
Joyously going aboard, Handel looked around in sur-
prise. But where were the other voyagers? Only a few sailors
were about, busily scrubbing the decks in the slanting rays
of the sun. Looking up from his work, one of the men smiled
to see a passenger, ready to set sail at sunup!
“Rather early to be about, sir.”
“But Pm on my way to England !”
“Ship won’t be sailing for a few hours, sir. Better go
below and find a good place to sleep.”
“Thank you, sailor.”
But the time sped quickly by and when the few passengers
were aboard, the gong sounded with a sharp clang and the
little vessel headed out to sea, ploughing sturdily through the
Handel had never seen the ocean before and he leaned
far over the railing where the spray could dash against his
face and he could taste the salty brine on his lips.
As the hours rolled by, he wished that the voyage could
go on and on, but in the distance was the shore, and soon it
was time to land.
London at lastl Y es, it was all as he had imagined it to be,
with Westminster Abbey, old London Bridge, and Big Ben,
booming the hour with measured stroke from the high clock
tower overlooking the town.
But there was little time to enjoy the city, for as soon
as it became known that the famous composer, Handel, was
in London, invitations came to his door, begging him to
conduct one of his operas for the people.
He would write them a new composition instead, and
shutting himself away, Handel thought of nothing but the
work before him, and in just two short weeks, the new opera,
“Rinaldo” was completed. Tt was so filled with pure, glow-
ing melody, it is no wonder that when it was given for
the large, eager audience, rousing cheers rang throughout
“Bravo! Handel! Handel! Handel!”
In one night the opera became famous, and all London
crowded to the theater in chairs and carriages, from dark
lanes and byways, to hear the beautiful work. The name of
Handel was spoken everywhere, and so many invitations
came to his door to play in homes and churches and concert
halls, that the master could only shake his head in wonder.
He liked the friendly English people and longed to make
London his home. But there was little hope of his wish com-
ing true, with the Prince of Hanover expecting him to return
to his court very soon.
But Handel could not go yet — not when there was so
much for him to do in the English capital. The weeks
stretched into months and still he was too busy to leave.
One morning, as he sat at his work, a little group of
dignified Englishmen stood at his door.
“Herr Handel, we have come to you in the name of our
good Queen, who requests that you write a composition for
the celebration of England’s new peace treaty.”
Handel listened breathlessly. This was a great honor,
“Thank you, gentlemen. I will be happy to carry out the
wishes of the Queen of England.”
Joyously Handel began the work and when the composi-
tion was finished, he sat at the organ in the vast St. PauPs
Cathedral to lead the strong, stirring music before the many
notables gathered there.
Queen Anne was so pleased with the service that Handel
had rendered to England that the very next morning she sent
a special messenger to his door with a heavy purse of gold
and the promise that for every year spent in England, the
composer would receive the sum of two hundred pounds.
Handel was overjoyed at his good fortune. Never had he
been so rich before! Now he could buy himself a new coat,
for he needed one badly. And it would be made by the finest
tailor in all London, with the latest braiding and special gold
But very soon afterward, the good Queen died, and word
was speedily sent to the Prince of Hanover, asking him to
come to London at once, to be crowned the King of
The Prince of Hanover in England ! Handel was worried,
indeed, for he had been away from the court of Hanover far
too long. The new King would be very angry, and was sure
to mete out sound punishment to his concert master.
Suddenly an idea came to Handel. He would write some
special music for the celebration, to serenade the new King
on the River Thames. But there was all too little time, and
setting to work with all his might, Handel finished the
“Water Music” just as the special day arrived.
Quickly gathering his little band of musicians together,
he hurried with them to the river, anxiously waiting for the
King to appear. Suddenly a blast of trumpets sounded near
the water’s edge and there, leading the stately procession,
was the new ruler, his jeweled robe shining in the moon-
light. Making his way to the river, he slowly took his place
in the velvet-lined barge.
“Quickly, men!” commanded Handel softly, “Into the
barge with your instruments!”
Without a sound, the musicians took their places in the
boat behind that of the King, and as the barges moved slowly
down the river, the music began. The lovely, graceful melo-
dies floated out over the water and a pleased smile stole over
the face of the King. The English people had fine music in
their country, indeed!
The charming pieces stopped for a moment and the
monarch raised his hand.
“Tell the musicians to play that music again,” he com-
manded, “and remind them not to miss a single note!”
At last the barges docked at Chelsea, where a fine supper
awaited the royal company, and stepping ashore, the King
spoke to one of his courtiers.
“Who in England has written this fine music?”
“The noted composer Handel, Your Majesty. And he
has conducted it especially for your pleasure.”
“Handel! Here? Bring the rascal to me at once!”
In a moment, Handel stood before the ruler of England.
“I humbly beseech your gracious pardon for not return-
ing earlier to the court of Hanover. It will not happen again,
A low chuckle sounded over his head.
So ! Then it is well that you have already chosen England
for your country, my fine concert master. But come, come,
Handel — all is forgiven. And now for your punishment you
shall play your music again while the company dines.”
Breathing a sigh of joy, Handel turned to the men, and
never was music played with more spirit! Especially this
“Graceful Dance” that you will be eager to hear. Hasn’t it
a beautiful melody?
from the Water Music
The next morning, when a messenger arrived at Handel’s
door bearing a scroll from the King, the composer trem-
blingly broke the heavy gold seal. Was his real punishment
coming at last? Opening the paper, he read the words before
“George, King of England, hereby grants the composer,
George Frederic Handel, the yearly sum of two hun-
dred pounds, as long as he shall live in England, serving
the King with his music.”
Two hundred pounds a year! And with still another two
hundred pounds for teaching the royal children, as well as
the sum from Queen Anne, he would be as rich as a kingl
And now for long years, Handel lived in London, writing
operas and conducting them for the people. More than any
place in all the world, Handel loved England, and the
happiest day of his life came to him when he was made a
citizen, which meant that from that day on, England would
forever be his home.
1 . Wf * nr T^.
At the invitation of the Duke of Chandos, Handel went
to live at his princely mansion at Edgeware, to conduct the
fine orchestra there. One morning he decided to take a long
walk and explore the countryside, and striding over the
broad fields, he was just entering Cannons when a crashing
thunderstorm broke over his head.
The rain pounded on
him furiously, and feeling
his way along an old wall,
he came to an open door-
way. A shelter at last ! Look-
ing up, he found himself in
a blacksmith’s shop and
there, before the blazing
forge, a busy smithy in
stout leather apron, was
pounding on his anvil, lustily singing an old folk melody.
With clothes dripping, Handel seated himself beside the
glowing fire, smiling with delight as the song went on, its
many verses seeming never to end. The lovely simple melody
caught his fancy. Why, this tune could be made into a fine
composition! Rising quickly, he nodded to the old smithy.
“Thank you for your kind shelter, sir.”
“And right welcome you are, stranger.”
Leaving the village behind him, Handel strode over the
fields, heartily singing the smithy’s song. Arriving at Edge-
ware, he sat at once to write the music that had worked itself
out in his mind.
And now all London was astir, for the opera house that
had been closed for so long, was to be opened again. Of
course no one but Handel should be the conductor, and to
the composer at Edgeware, King George sent his fastest
messenger, bidding him leave at once for Dresden, to select
new singers there.
With all eagerness Handel set out in the coach, smiling
to himself as he thought of a little surprise. He would stop in
Halle for a visit with Mother Handel and Aunt Anna!
How could he ever wait to get there? The miles seemed
never to end, but at last he rumbled into the little village and
came to the cobblestoned street where he had played as a boy.
Leaving the carriage, he ran to the old Schlamm house, his
cries ringing out joyously.
“Mother! Aunt Anna!”
Two little old ladies hurried to the doorway, their white
caps bobbing in the sun.
“George! At last you have come home to us! And now
a great conductor and composer!” they went on breathlessly.
How good it was to be with his dear ones again! But the
time with them was all too short and soon he was on his way
again, waving good-bys from the coach window until the
carriage turned at the end of the street.
Hardly had he left Halle than a stranger walked into the
village, and stopping at the Schlamm House, rapped on the
door with his stout cane. Perhaps George had come back
again, thought Aunt Anna as she lifted the latch and peered
out. But a stranger bow T ed to greet her, his black bowler hat
under his arm.
“My name is Sebastian Bach, and I have heard that the
great composer, Handel, is here in Halle. I have walked from
Leipzig to see him.”
“From Leipzig!” exclaimed Aunt Anna, wonderingly.
“All the way from Leipzig to see our Handel! But he is gone,
sir. Only a few minutes ago did he leave in the coach.”
A look of keen disappointment crossed the tired face of
the great composer.
“Then I must start back to Leipzig at once, for my ras-
cally choir boys will be getting into mischief without their
Cantor.” And putting his little bowler hat on his head, Bach
strode away, his sturdy back disappearing at the end of the
Through the years that went swiftly by, more than forty
operas came from HandePs pen, besides many songs and
works for orchestra and for special instruments, as well. As
soon as they were finished, they were carefully copied for
the printers by the faithful Smith, so that everywhere, the
people could have the beautiful works of the master to play
But now that he was growing older, Handel lived quietly
in his tall stone house on Brook Street, giving concerts on
the organ and composing. The people of London were
always eager for new music and Handel decided to write an
oratorio for them, music that would be performed in the
church, with singers and chorus and an orchestra to accom-
pany them. 122
The early sunlight flooded the front room of the Handel
house as the master, his red morning coat carefully in place
and his wig neatly tied, took his place at the oval wooden
table, well supplied with pens and fresh paper by his good
But the simple armchair was a bit too tight for the master,
who was fast growing stout. Changing for a larger one, he
smiled as melodies began to pour into his mind for his
oratorio, the “Messiah.”
Throughout the long day the notes flowed from his pen
in a steady stream, and when darkness came to shut away
the light from his paper, there was still no time for rest, for
the music must go on.
Quietly lighting the candle, the servant brought fresh hot
food, but Handel took no notice. Through the long night
hours the scratching of his pen sounded through the bare
rooms as the master labored on, his eyes glowing with a
strange fire as the glorious music rang through his mind.
Then, when all London was waking to the new day, he
took his dripping candle and climbing the broad stairs, fell
wearily into bed.
On the twenty-fourth day the work was finished. Never
before had such a giant task been accomplished. Sighing
happily, Handel put down his pen.
“Smith! Smith!” he called. “Come quickly! My newest
and dearest child is born.”
The faithful copyist hurried to the master, and seeing
tears on his cheeks, stopped in surprise.
“Oh, Smith, such a beautiful time I have had with my
‘Messiah . 5 The very gates of heaven seemed to open above
me and as the music went onto the paper, choirs of angels
with glad eyes sang the ‘Hallelujah Chorus . 5 55
“It must be beautiful, indeed, master.”
“You shall see, Smith, you shall see. But come now, make
copies for the printers at once, and please, no mistakes ! 55
“I will watch carefully,” answered the copyist, hurrying
off to do his master’s bidding. Then, turning back, he cau-
tioned, “And while I make the copies, you must rest from
your music, Master Handel.”
A burst of laughter sounded through the room.
“Rest! But Smith — I rest only in my music!” And
reaching for fresh paper, the master began a new oratorio !
A few days later, as Handel sat at his little harpsichord,
playing a part of his new work, a messenger arrived at his
door. Opening the carefully written scroll, Handel read:
“The Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland humbly beseeches the
famous English composer, George Frederic Handel, to
grant the people of Ireland the honor of a visit to their
country, to perform for them his noble compositions.”
Handel looked up with a bright smile. A new adventure
was calling him. How he did love adventures!
“Pack at once!” he commanded. “I am off for Ireland.
And Smith, — get word to my singers to meet me in Dublin.
I shall need them there.”
What a time the two servants had, getting the master
ready! And hovering about, Handel watched the packing
with anxious eye.
“The ruffles, my good man — watch the ruffles! And
that is my newest velvet coat. Handle it with great care!”
At last the bulging bags were tied and Handel was off
in the coach. Arriving in Chester, he made his way to the
Golden Falcon, for heavy seas were running in the channel
and the packet boats had long been delayed.
This would be a good time to rehearse the chorus parts
of the new oratorio, and from the church near by, the choir
boys hastened to the little inn, eager to perform for the noted
“Now then, my fine young singers, can you read this
music at sight?”
“Oh yes, sir.”
“Very well,” answered Handel, giving them the sheets
of the “Messiah.” “I will accompany you. Now then,
Haltingly the boys started, but after a few quavering
notes, there was dead silence. Handel looked up in amuse-
“But you told me that you could read at sight!”
“Oh yes, sir, but not at first sight.”
In a few days the sea was calm enough to board the packet
boat and soon Handel found himself in the Irish country-
side, fresh and sparkling and green. News spread quickly of
the arrival of the noted master, and throughout Dublin,
honors were showered upon him and visitors crowded to his
door, eager to catch a glimpse of the famous composer.
At last the rehearsals for the oratorio were finished and
the great day arrived for the performance of the “Messiah.”
All Dublin was astir for the greatest event ever to take place
in that city, and in order to have room enough for the people,
a request was sent far and wide, asking,
“The favour of the Ladies not to come with hoops this
day to the Music Hall in Fishamble Street. The Gentle-
men are desired to come without their swords.”
Handel, in his fine new costume of deep green velvet, was
pleased with the vast audience that listened wide-eyed to
such music as had never before been heard in Dublin. They
would never forget this day.
At the end of a year with the warm-hearted people of
Ireland, Handel returned to England, happier than he had
been for many long years. The English people welcomed
him back and at once begged him to honor them with a per-
formance of the “Messiah” which had won such fame in
Straight to the opera house went the tireless master and
when all was in readiness for a performance of his greatest
work, Handel seated himself at the organ. But as he started
to give the signal for the music to begin, his ear caught the
sound of whispering and down came his hand.
“Hush! Hush!” whispered one of the royal ladies in the
King’s box. “Can you not see? Handel is angry!”
The audience, as well, had noticed the trembling wig of
the master and at once there was silence. Then, putting his
hands on the keys, Handel began to play and in awe, the
people listened to the noble work with its triumphant
“Hallelujah Chorus , 55 telling that the Christ would live
forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music,
that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose
to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the
chorus echoed through the house.
This first part of the glorious Hallelujah Chorus you may
be able to sing while someone plays the accompaniment.
up zn jj ..__.jp
^ _ TZZ 5Z3T
^3 ■> ~TZ1
L4HNHNaHI W 'MMMf \
Hal - 1
. K ±
fal - le
mKMMMmmam hijhimh mmhi
■IMMMMW— MM— —11
M MV MM7MV MV
■MM^r MM MMHMVIJ
■ MVMMMV MV
i , «| 1 QMBIflMi
' MM Mi
m*cm 1 mm mm
MMM VMM VM
MVM MM M
One day, after the master had conducted his favorite
oratorio at the Foundling Hospital to raise funds for the
homeless children sheltered there, he stopped on his way
home to speak with his old friend, Lord Kinnoul.
“Ah Handel! Handel! This “Messiah” of yours is setting
the world on fire. It is fine entertainment, indeed!”
“Entertainment!” exclaimed the master, his wig shaking
violently, “I do not wish to entertain you, sir, but to make
Poor Handel! His eyes that had served him so long and
so well, began to trouble him. They smarted and ached
whenever he tried to write and he decided to ask the King’s
doctor to come to see him at once. Word was sent with all
haste to the palace and soon the tall, handsome Doctor
Taylor arrived at the house on Brook Street, examining the
anxious master with the greatest care.
“Ah, my good Handel,” sighed the noted doctor, “I
must tell you that there is little that can be done for your
trouble. I am sorry, sir.”
A wave of deep sadness crept into the heart of the master.
To spend the rest of his days in darkness? And not to be
able to see to write his melodies? Then he must work at once,
while there was yet time.
Hurrying to the little table he seized his pen and the notes
poured onto the paper before him. Faster, faster, while there
was yet time! Now the music of the oratorio, “Jeptha,”
written to Morrell’s words, was beginning to sing!
But in the struggling days that followed, there were many
sad times when Handel could not see. Closer and still closer
he bent his head until his eyes were almost touching the
paper. As the last notes came from his pen, someone entered
“Morrell! It is good of you to come. And see — the
oratorio, “Jeptha,” is just finished — my music written tor
your words. They are your best, my friend.”
“My poor words are honored with such noble music,
sir,” answered the little minister kindly. “And I will write
more if you wish, and Smith, here, can take down the notes
as you tell them to him.”
A light of joy broke like a ray of sunshine over the face
of the master.
''Then I can still sing my songs for England! England —
how I love her!”
Through the days that went quietly by, the faithful Smith
sat with Handel, carefully putting down the notes of a com-
position as they came from the master’s lips. Then, when the
work was finished, Handel listened closely as the music was
played for him. But sadly he shook his head.
“No, no Smith — what I long to say is not there. We will
try again, just once more, ye£?”
As the darkness came to shut away the last ray of light,
the heart of the master became ever more lonely. But no
matter how great his suffering, no one must know. Happily
he welcomed his close friends and on calm sunny days,
rowed with them on the river Thames, peacefully smoking
his long pipe.
Alone in his house at night when he could not sleep,
Handel felt his way to his beloved harpsichord, to play in the
stillness, parts of his music that he loved best. Softly the melo-
dies stole to the far corners- of the little house, or marched
triumphantly up the broad staircase, echoing in grandeur
through the halls.
Then, strangely comforted, he stole away to bed and to
His concerts for the people never stopped. With head
erect, he sat at the organ, playing his works from memory
or making entire compositions as he went along while in
wonder and awe, the people listened to the Father of the
Oratorio, one of the greatest composers and organists that
the world has ever known.
When the last notes had died away, the audience rose to
honor their noble musician.
“Long live our great master! Long live our Handel!”
echoed their cries.
And so the little boy from the village of Halle, who loved
music so much that he stole away at night to the attic to learn
by himself how to play, grew to be the greatest musician of
all England, the beloved George Frederic Handel, honored
through his whole life long at the Court of Kings.
And here you will find more beautiful music that Handel
wrote : delightful minuets and gavottes and sonatinas that you
will want to play. And how you will enjoy listening to more
of the tuneful melodies from the “Water Music,” while
someone plays them for you over and over again, for we can
never hear enough of Handel’s glorious music.
Un,v ER8A L